Friday, February 21, 2014

The Unsung Soprano

Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones

Nickname/Alias/ Nom de guerre: Sissieretta Jones, "The Black Patti" (a reference to celebrated 19th-century Italian soprano Adelina Patti), Madame Jones

January 5, 1868 or 1869/ Portsmouth, Virginia

June 24, 1933/Providence, Rhode Island

Opera star

What Makes Her Bitchin’:
Though largely forgotten today, this once world-famous soprano was the first African-American to perform at what is now Carnegie Hall. Similarly bitchin’, throughout her singing career, Sissieretta’s vocal stylings were showcased at the White House during the administrations of four consecutive U.S. (Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt). Oh, and she performed the British royal family, too (NBD).

Betcha’ Didn't Know:
Around 1896, Sissieretta established Black Patti’s Troubadours. One singer/dancer to perform with the group early in their career was “History Bitches” podcast subject, Aida Overton-Walker.

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